noun, often attributive
spe·​cial·​ty | \ ˈspe-shəl-tē How to pronounce specialty (audio) \
plural specialties

Definition of specialty

1 : a distinctive mark or quality
2a : a special object or class of objects: such as
(1) : a legal agreement embodied in a sealed instrument
(2) : a product of a special kind or of special excellence fried chicken is my specialty
b : the state of being special, distinctive, or peculiar
3 : something in which one specializes

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of specialty in a Sentence

Buttermilk pie is a Southern specialty. a doctor with a specialty in internal medicine

Recent Examples on the Web

Adding a space specialty to the TPS program seems like a natural extension, but establishing a specialist school represents a cultural shift for the storied organization. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force's Most Famous Pilot School Is Going To Space," 3 Sep. 2019 Financing ostensibly harebrained schemes is an Affeldt specialty. Susan Spano, Los Angeles Times, "The Castañeda reopens in Las Vegas, N.M., thanks to an entrepreneur with a soft spot for historic hotels," 31 Aug. 2019 Pathology was a hard-to-recruit specialty, and one vital to serving a growing population of veterans retiring to the mountains at the junction of northwest Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and southwest Missouri, known as the Ozarks. Anchorage Daily News, "How Veterans Affairs failed to stop a pathologist who misdiagnosed 3,000 cases," 30 Aug. 2019 This is not a specialty or back-burner issue for me. New York Times, "Pete Buttigieg Was Rising. Then Came South Bend’s Policing Crisis.," 30 Aug. 2019 The three flavors are inspired by your favorite characters from the Crawley home and retail for $12.50 each, both online and also in specialty retailers across the country. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "Downton Abbey Movie Teas Are Here and Our Mugs Are Ready," 15 Aug. 2019 Smaller, specialty retailers like O’Reilly Automotive Inc. and Tractor Supply Co. both hiked prices in the second quarter, largely in response to existing tariffs in place. Matthew Boyle, Fortune, "Walmart’s Low-Price Strategy Under Pressure," 12 Aug. 2019 Likewise, when the company bought Abercrombie & Fitch for $47 million in 1988, the century-old chain — at the time an outdoor specialty retailer — had already gone bankrupt once. Hilary George-parkin, Vox, "For at least a decade, the man behind Victoria’s Secret and The Limited was the disgraced financier and accused sex trafficker’s only known client.," 26 July 2019 Although a lion's share of Kill Cliff's business consists of direct-to-consumer sales, a good portion of the sales from brick-and-mortar sellers come from mom-and-pop natural food and specialty retailers. Alicia Wallace, CNN, "CBD product sales are booming. Now the FDA needs to weigh in," 9 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'specialty.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of specialty

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for specialty

Middle English specialte, from Anglo-French especialté, from Late Latin specialitat-, specialitas, from Latin specialis special

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about specialty

Statistics for specialty

Last Updated

6 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for specialty

The first known use of specialty was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for specialty



English Language Learners Definition of specialty

: something that a person or place is known for making or producing very well
: an area of study or business that a person specializes in or has special knowledge of


spe·​cial·​ty | \ ˈspe-shəl-tē How to pronounce specialty (audio) \
plural specialties

Kids Definition of specialty

: something for which a person or place is known Pancakes are my specialty. Good service is the restaurant's specialty.


spe·​cial·​ty | \ ˈspesh-əl-tē How to pronounce specialty (audio) \
plural specialties

Medical Definition of specialty

: something (as a branch of medicine) in which one specializes

Keep scrolling for more


plural specialties

Legal Definition of specialty

1 [ from the special form of the contract ] : formal contract at contract
2 : a doctrine providing that a person extradited can be prosecuted only for the charges described in the order for extradition
3 : real property (as a parcel of land or especially a structure) that is of such specialized character that no market for it exists and for which value upon condemnation is determined by the cost of reproduction less depreciation used especially in New York

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on specialty

What made you want to look up specialty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!